Tips on Assignments

Here is a tip I gave to Niki, when she asked about the review of Inspiration and Incarnation.

The “Critical/Appreciative Review” doesn’t need to be long, a couple of pages is fine. It should include a description and summary of the book. Describe the writing style, purpose, intended audience, etc. Summarize the main point and main arguments. Then do the critical/appreciative part. Point out any weaknesses, omissions, unclear portions, illogical arguments, factual errors, etc-any flaws you can find or areas where you will disagree. Also point out the strengths of the book, its importance and value. Do an objective evaluation, then include your personal response. Conclude by saying who (if anyone) would benefit from this book or suggestions on how it might be used.

I am looking to see that you really read the book; that you understood it; that you understand the implications and importance of the book; and that you give your own evaluation of it.

I should add a couple of points:

  1. Place the “Facts of Publication” at the top: the information that would go into a footnote or bibliography entry. Include also the number of pages and the price, if available.
  2. Read a few samples in the Stone-Campbell Journal, available online here; click on one of the reviews highlighted in blue.  Hint: The review of Rolf Rendtdorff’s The Canonical Hebrew Bible is relevant to the themes of this course!

No one has asked yet, but you have a “Bible on One Page” assignment due at the end of the week on campus.

Be creative and don’t take “one page” too literally. It is basically some form of visual aid to show how the various books if the Bible fit together; the time period, historical setting, main theme, etc. of each book.

Theories about the dates, authorship, and composition of various books of the Bible vary widely–and you may change your mind on some issues. For now I will say, that the introductions in the JSB pretty much represent the critical consensus of those who teach the bible in an academic setting (e.g. universities). We could call this the critical view. This is often different from the traditional or conservative views which are commonly taught in conservative and evangelical colleges and seminaries and in the textbooks usually used in such institutions. In other words, you probably already own books that present alternatives to the positions represented in the JSB.

One of our goals for this course is to help you understand both the critical views and the conservative alternatives.

My goal is not to indoctrinate you on these issues (because I don’t consider such questions to be matters of doctrine) but to help you understand the evidence on both sides and to make up your own mind. I have no objection to you following the dates and names for authorship, etc., as you find them in other books–just keep in mind we will be discussing alternatives in class.

And, remember to be creative.

I have used this assignment in my class on “Critical Intro to the OT” and have had some interesting results. Some do posters, some make maps, some do art work, some make mobiles or sculptures, some use Power Point.

My wife an I once made a bookshelf to teach the books of the Bible to children. We made little blocks of wood to represent each book of the Bible and arranged them according to the main divisions.

Choose an age group or interest group and setting and create a visual aid you can use to give an overview of the Old Testament. (Since this is an OT class, I don’t require you to include the books of the NT–but if you prefer to show how the OT leads to the NT, that is fine.)


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